Before we first visited Turks and Caicos several years ago, my husband told me he wanted to go on a beach vacation, he wanted white sand and turquoise water, and he wanted a week of complete relaxation (picture hammock and umbrella drink). I set out to find this magical destination, but every suggestion I came back with was rejected with the words: water not turquoise enough!
I finally consulted my awesome travel agent Liora, and she immediately said: if you are after turquoise water you have to go to Turks and Caicos, and if you are after a relaxing trip to Paradise you have to stay at Grace Bay Club.
So I started investigating this mysterious place of beauty and relaxation and was immediately smitten.
Grace Bay Club, the first luxury all-suite resort in Turks & Caicos, is located on Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales, the most developed island in Turks and Caicos. But in spite of being the most developed island it is not overrun or overdeveloped and has maintained its original charm and authenticity.
Grace Bay Beach is hands down the most beautiful beach I have ever been to. The sand is really, really white and the water is really, really turquoise, some jetties stick out into the water and you are just waiting for Peter Lik to come by and take one of his famous jetty photos.
Three distinct kinds of accommodation are available at the resort: there is an adults-only section called "The Hotel" with its own pool, the spacious and family-friendly section in which we stayed called "The Villa Suites", and the exclusive, uber-luxe resort within the resort called "The Estate" (which would be the honeymoon option).
The Villa Suites are perfect for families. With five people we occupied a two bedroom villa which has its own kitchen, a spacious family room and a large balcony overlooking the beach and the ocean. The villa pool is rather small and doesn't have a slide. If water parks are your thing, this might not be the right option for you, but the pool pales compared to the beach and we hardly used it anyway. (During our first stay we arrived at the resort at 10pm and spontaneously decided to all jump in with our clothes on, and we didn't even get into trouble!)
Grace Bay Club is one of our top favorites when it comes to resorts, and here are the five main reasons why:
#5 - The Breakfast Buffet and the Afternoon Tea
The breakfast buffet has all the usual fixings including an omelet option (which is served at the table, no omelet station). There is also "Junie's Hot Sauce" that definitely deserves a mention if you like it really, really spicy. We thoroughly enjoyed the food and the service, but all of that wasn't the highlight. We had a daily routine of getting up early, being the first ones out on the beach, taking a swim and then rolling into breakfast happy, sandy and in our swimsuits. The breakfast deck is outdoors, super casual (nobody cared, or if they did, they didn't show it) and overlooking the ocean....there is no better way to start the day.
Our kids in particular loved the afternoon tea. Every day for a two hour period the resort offers tea time (or coffee if you prefer) with a buffet of tea sandwiches, cookies and pastries....it basically replaced lunch for us every single day. It also happened to be set up right next to the pool bar which offered the perfect opportunity to switch from tea to a cocktail.
#4 - The Restaurants
There are several restaurant options at the resort. We loved our dinners at Krave, especially the fresh fish, but more than that we enjoyed nibbles and drinks at the Lounge. With or without live music, the atmosphere and views are unbeatable, especially after sun set.
#3 - Free Water Sport Equipment and Bikes
This one was important to me. I hate to be nickel-and-dimed at an upscale resort. I believe you shouldn't have to pay an hourly rate for water sports equipment at a nice place like this, and at Grace Bay Club you don't. No matter what you would like to use, the friendly guys at the activities desk will set it up for you and will not be upset if you change your mind after ten minutes and switch to something else. Stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, wind surfing....everything is at your disposal at any time. The staff even takes you out on the mini catamarans if you don't know how to do it yourself. It's one of the true highlights of this resort for me. I spent an hour every day paddle boarding to the neighboring hotels and enjoying the peaceful water.
On a similar note: It's a little thing, but we loved using the hotel bikes to cycle around town or to hit the grocery story around 0.5 miles away. You simply grab a bike and return it. There is no checking out, no waiting, everything always seemed smooth and easy.
#2 - The Feeling of being welcomed
I have to mention this as my number two. From the moment you arrive in the lobby and take a chilled drink of the tray you will always feel welcome at this resort. The front desk assigns you a personal butler (Thank you, Franklyn!) and hands you your personal resort phone which connects you to your butler at any time. (I don't like the word butler, but can't come with a better one.) Franklyn became our best buddy, as evidenced by the fact that in 2019 I still remembered his name from our 2014 stay!
We travelled with three generations and everybody felt catered to in their own special way. It's a happy place!
#1 - Garth and his Beach Bar
This is the undefeated and undebated number one highlight of the resort. On the beach you will find a little beach bar (they now call it "Just Tacos"). It's really only a wooden bar and some chairs and tables. Garth is in charge here. He and Andre play country music (with a special emphasis on Luke Combs) and whip up whatever drink you desire, specializing in rum concoctions. They also serve tacos and some other food items, but really you go there for the fun company and the atmosphere. We spent every afternoon there, we took my parents, we took the kids, we sent our friends over when they went to Turks and Caicos a few months after us, and we all loved it! Garth's beach bar will always be my favorite memory of Turks and Caicos, and it's still dominating my playlist. If you go, tell him "Oma" says Hi (That's my mom...he always remembered my mom.)
Happy memories for sure!
I should mention one more thing: as to be expected the resort is not exactly inexpensive. But if you do some research you will find that the prices on the islands drop sharply after spring break ends. For both of our trips we decided to go during the Memorial Day week in May, which made the whole journey significantly more affordable.
Other recommendations for Turks and Caicos:
Our favorite off-property activity was probably the Iguana Island tour with www.islandvibes.com. For half a day you get to chill on a boat, jump in the water, snorkel for conch and chase the iguanas on Iguana Island.
We also liked the "Fish Fry" on Thursday nights. We happened to go just after a downpour and the whole scene was pretty wet, but we enjoyed some fresh fish and browsed through the local arts and crafts stands.
It's quite a hike to get to the Caribbean from California and for most West Coast people Hawaii wins out, but this trip felt very different from a Hawaii vacation. We throughly enjoyed it and will definitely go back for a third time at some point.
Please reach out with any questions and comments!